There is no upper limit to the weight of a coxswain, but there is a lower limit - 55kg for men and 45kg for women internationally.  

The FISA rules of racing (Rule 27) states 

The minimum weight for a coxswain wearing the racing uniform is 55 kilogrammes (“kgs.”) for men’s, Under 23 men’s and Junior men’s crews, and 50 kgs. for women’s, Under 23 women’s, Junior women’s and mixed crews. To make up this weight, a coxswain may carry a maximum of 10 kgs. dead weight which shall be placed in the boat as close as possible to his person. No article of racing equipment shall be considered as part of this dead weight. At any time, before the race or until immediately after disembarkation, the Control Commission may require the weight of the dead weight to be checked. 

[Thanks to Michael Tanner for spotting we had the link to an outdated version of the rule book - now corrected. 21/04/15]

Presenting yourself ready to race at the correct weight is important for the overall crew performance.  A good coxswain takes responsibility for his or her weight on race day.  

In common with lightweight rowers, being at the correct weight on race day is important - the picture of the Boat Race coxswains weighing in demonstrates the impact of your weight on the crew.  The dark blues will be carrying 1 kg less extra weight than the light blues based on the cox weigh-in.

Unlike lightweight rowers, coxes don’t want to drop weight at the weigh-in and then regain it before the time of the race - they want to stay light. 

We researched some of the strategies that Lightweights use to manage their racing weight and many are definitely appropriate for coxes.  

The key things to consider are:

Wake Up Weight

What you weigh when you wake every morning is important to learn how your body weight varies naturally through the weeks.  It also educates you about what you weigh at night and what changes by the morning.

The Sweat Down

If you need to lose weight on race day, sweating is a good way to lose mass - it’s just water.  Becoming dehydrated will make you weigh less.  BUT there are dangers of dehydration which can affect your judgement and speed of thought which could be more detrimental to the crew’s race than carrying a couple of hundred extra grammes of your body weight.

After Sweat Down

It’s important to towel yourself dry after a sweat run because you want to remove all moisture before the weigh in.  Test your weight wearing your row-suit (which should be dry) and if you’re OK you can drink a bit or eat a little.  If not, wait until the weigh-in has been completed.


Here’s a good article about ways to manage your body weight on race day.  Written for lightweights, you can work out how to adapt it for your coxes.

Coxmate and NK head bands

A great question – many clubs will be thinking carefully about what functionality they need and also how much money they have to spend this year.

So we all use amplification for rowing crew coxswains – but what does your coach actually need the crew and cox to be able to do? 

What sort of coxswain does your club have?

The best coxswains are the “shadow” of the coach.  They listen carefully, repeat and re-use words the coach used and deliver exactly the outing that the coach planned.  These coxswains need to be able to communicate clearly to the crew, to check whether they are at the right rate or speed that the coach wants and add their own voice to ensure that the correct training is produced by the crew.

For these coxes they need an amplifier with sound, rating, time, speed as a minimum.

The next type of coxswain are still learning their craft.  They are good at steering and can get the crew to do a drill perfectly including complex groups of pairs rowing and changes of stroke length or pressure.  But they aren’t yet able to coach their crews. 

This group is the majority of the club and school coxswains.  They need an amplifier with sound, rating and time.  A long battery life is also helpful.

Given the distribution of club coxes to top coxes is likely ten to one – you want to ensure that most of your coxing equipment is suitable for most of your crews.  And so your choices are NK Cox Box Plus ® or Coxmate AA Plus.  Or a home made amp.

Cox Box versus AA+

Specification wise both these units are very similar.  The differences come down to weight, battery life and price. 

Both are compatible with wiring loom and harnesses made by the other company; both are easy to use and require little maintenance. 

The specifications provided by each company are below for you to compare.


Coxmate AA+  $490

Nielsen Kellerman Cox Box Plus $1,035


Nielsen Kellerman Cox Box Plus 800 grammes

Coxmate AA+  270 grammes.


Nielsen Kellerman Cox Box Plus Lithium Polymer rechargeable, user-replaceable, 3-year life. Minimum continuous talk time: 1 hour, Standby: 25 hours, Typical use: 4 hours (typical defined as 1/2 volume and talking 1/2 of the time).

Coxmate AA+ Batteries: 800mAH NiMH: Run time up to 8 hrs. Charge time approx 10 hrs.


Going to a rowing classic race is a lifetime goal for many coxswains.  Getting there in the 9th Seat for a crew of former Olympians must be a dream come true.

Adrian Ellison got just that when he went to Boston Massachusetts, USA last October – and to crown it all he set a course record time and came away with a winning gold medal in the Event 50th Anniversary year. Images and links

Lucky Adrian had spotted a Facebook chat between two of the girls a year ago suggesting putting together a crew and he immediately offered his coxing services.

Key learnings for coxswains from Adrian’s story. 

There are some really helpful insights which you can use to improve your coxing – these are in Italics below.

For the warm up it was a classic where everything clicked into place – I was aware as it was going on that it was really high quality.  The pieces we did in the warm up were super-focused and concentrated and at the same time very relaxed. One of the things I learned from Katherine Grainger was to remind them to be relaxed at all times. 

Try copying this with your crew.

We did some race-pace pieces in the basin before the start - they seemed effortless and we hit rates above what we wanted easily and naturally. I knew from this that they were switched on and it was going to be a good race.  This is a sign your crew is ready to race.  The reason this happens is adrenaline kicks in and so when they are above race pace and you can ask them to cool it down and actually bring the crew down to a specific rate.

Check your normal rates against pre-race warm-up rates to see how your crew compares.

Once the race started I was focused on reciting the script [race plan] we had developed.  I learned in our previous race that they used the Leander Club race plan and it was immediately obvious that the plan was far more complex, intricate and detailed than anything I’d done in the 80s and 90s. 

Almost every minute there was something specific they want me to tell them.  We included two 100 stroke pieces - broken into 5 x 20s each one focused on a particular part of the stroke.  I had to remember as well to tell them where they were on the course (the crew doesn’t know it well).

I was just enjoying it and was there for the ride.  You don’t need to tell a crew like that how to row - you don’t need to tell them to push because they are fully committed to doing that all the time.

How can you get your crew to raise their commitment to this level?

One of the good things about the Comxate SX was I knew our target split.  We wanted to be going 1.40 splits per 500 in order to break the course record of 17:14 but just to be simple I chose to aim for 17 minutes. 

At the half way point I looked at the Coxmate and we were all on target to be under 17 minutes.  All I said was “we are still going fast; we are on target for a good time”.

Think about whether you need to tell your crew all the detail all the time or if a summary comment will do.

As we went through the finish line I looked down at the Coxmate I expected to see 17 minutes and it was 16:38.  I just screamed and was still yelling when they told us to stop and spin round!

It was such as good row - there are about a dozen top races I’ve done (the Olympic gold medal final wasn’t one) that was one of my all-time favourites.  If we went back and did that again a dozen times I think we wouldn’t replicate the quality. 

There wasn’t a single bad stroke - it was just perfect. 




Let's start the new year with a challenge - a personal goal or target. 

It's said that people who set goals for their life achieve more than those who don't.  Why should your coaching and coxing be any different?

So can you articulate something really specific that you would like to achieve.  Here are some suggestions

  • Gain skill 
  • New experiences
  • Buy equipment or clothing 
  • Compete at a regatta
  • Beat your previous best

New Skills

Adults don't find it easy to learn new things and so pick something you'd like to improve - how about steering straight down a 2k course, or taking corners without loosing boat speed.  For coaches, can you do an outing where the cox does exactly what you intended and understands your instruction perfectly?

There are three types of goals - Outcome goals, Process goals and Performance goals. 

Three useful articles about goal setting

As a simple starting point, why don't you sit your crew or squad down and ask them to write down two things they want to achieve in rowing this year / season?

Then ask each to tell the group what they wrote and why.

There will be overlaps between what many of them say.  Can you get the group to agree one common goal?

As a follow up (a week or a day later) you can tell them the process goals or steps towards achieving their common goal.  Then have a monthly update where they all acknowledge progress towards the big goal and the steps they have each taken in the process.

So What's Your Big Hairy A**ed Rowing Goal for 2015?



This weeks guest post is a bit of a fun one by Robert Colburn. Its just one of many great coxing articles he has written as part of the Believers in the Stern Blog on the Row2k website.

There are many styles, the quick pitch off the end of the dock, the one-two-three heave, and the no-warning up-and-out which sends the flailing coxswain -- usually face-first -- into the briny deep. Winning is the sweetest moment, and winning boats deserve to savor it fully. Throwing the coxswain in (no doubt a vestige of some primordial sacrifice to appease the water gods) is more than just a reward to the boat; it is also a photo opportunity. Best of all are the boats who treat themselves and their fans to the full ceremonial, counting off a swing for each of the rowers who created the victory.